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7 Exciting Facts About the Tour de France, and Where to Stream the Race
Lasting nearly three weeks and involving several hundred competitors, the Tour de France is one of the biggest sporting events across the globe — and in the world of cycling, it’s definitely the biggest. This much-anticipated annual race faced some setbacks during the COVID-19 pandemic, and while the world hasn’t returned to normal yet, devoted cycling fans (and those of us who simply love edge-of-our-seats competition) are eager for the big return slated for this summer.
In honor of the Tour de France’s grand 2021 re-entry to the sporting universe on Saturday, June 26, we’re taking a look at some fun facts that’ll get your anticipation building even more. Plus, you’ll discover where and how you can watch every minute of the race from the comfort of home — no cleats or helmet necessary.
Thousands of People Are Involved
You might already know that a bevy of bicyclists participate in the race — 198 riders spread across 22 different teams compete each year. But the number of people involved in ensuring the race goes off without a hitch is much higher than the number of athletes participating. Organizers take logistics to the next level with team staff members, members of the race jury, thousands of security professionals and members of the media. If you include the spectators in that count, the numbers — pre-pandemic, at least — can run into the millions . From city to city along the race route, hundreds upon hundreds of people follow the action throughout the course of the event. And organizers and support staff keep things running smoothly to the finish line.
The Race Has a Surprising Connection to a Newspaper
The first Tour de France wasn’t held because a bunch of bicycling fans got together and thought it’d be a great idea to start a competition — at least not totally. It was actually a promotional event hosted with the intention of bringing more publicity to L’Auto , a French newspaper that focused on reporting details about different sporting events. Although L’Auto has since closed down, the parent company of its replacement, L’Equipe , continues to organize the Tour de France today.
It’s Not Just Big, but Also Long
And it’s long in multiple ways, too. The race itself takes place over the course of nearly a month, with 21 different day-long segments making up the bulk of the competition. The length of the course is also extensive, however; it’s typically over 2,000 miles long and can pass through multiple neighboring countries. It wasn’t even always this short, either — in 1926, the course encompassed a winding 3,570 miles and took a full month for riders to finish.
Different Jerseys Mean Different Things
As you watch the race, you’ll notice cyclists wearing the bright kits and bibs that represent their teams — but you’ll also spot some even more unique colors and designs among the pack. One of these is a yellow jersey, called the “maillot jaune,” that’s bestowed upon the racer who had the lowest cumulative ride time for the day. Other special jerseys include the green “maillot vert,” which is awarded to the rider with the most points, and the “maillot a pois” — a red and white polka-dotted jersey given to the cyclist who earns the most points during the areas of the course that have steep inclines to climb. The rider who wears the maillot a pois is affectionately known as “the king of the mountain.”
There Was Almost Only One Tour de France
The first Tour de France took place in 1903 – and that was almost the one and only iteration of the race. That’s because newspaper editor Henri Desgrange, who helped organize the initial tour, was so aghast at the conduct not only of the fans but also of the competitors in the 1903 race that he wanted to discontinue it despite its clear appeal. Boisterous crowds turned violent, with spectators assaulting racers as they passed along the course. The riders themselves found numerous ways to cheat, disqualifying themselves in the process. But the Tour de France was so lauded — and it increased circulation of L’Auto so extensively — that the organizers had no choice but to continue hosting the event.
The Race Has Its Own Language
Bonking, anyone? As you’re watching the Tour de France, you might hear commentators use some curious turns of phrase — and many of them will be unique to the race itself. Boost your bicycling know-how by learning what these terms mean before catching one of the race segments:
- Bonking: Cyclists don’t want to “bonk” during this race; it means they’ve run out of energy and are too wiped to continue.
- Peloton: No, it’s not the fancy exercise bike you bought during the pandemic. In Tour de France context, a peloton is the main group of riders where most of the participants are cycling together.
- Sag Wagon: If someone bonks, they may need the assistance of the sag wagon. This is a car that follows the pack of cyclists and picks up those who become too fatigued or injured to keep riding.
- Musket Bag: While it may sound like something you’d find at a Civil War battleground, a musket bag is sort of like a bagged lunch — but it’s packed with energy gels, water, sandwiches and other fuel for the cyclists. It’s also called a “musette” or, sometimes, a “bonk bag.”
- Lanterne Rouge: In French, this term means “red light,” and it refers to the cyclist who’s in the very last place in the race. Being in this position gets riders ample attention, and those who know they won’t win sometimes compete for this distinction instead.
You Can Watch the Action at Home — Here’s How
Now that the race has returned to regularly scheduled programming in 2021 following its 2020 pandemic postponement, you might be eager to catch the three-week racing saga unfold from the comfort of home. Fortunately, you have the convenient option to stream the tour live on both NBC Sports and NBC’s Peacock streaming service.
The race coverage on Peacock is only available through Peacock Premium, a paid tier of the service that costs $4.99 — a worthwhile investment if you’re a serious cycling fan who can’t wait to watch this Grand Tour. NBC Sports is accessible if you’re already paying for regular cable, but without that subscription you won’t be able to stream the program online or watch it on TV unless you spring for Peacock.
Keep in mind that, if you’re not already a Peacock subscriber, you’ll receive a free weeklong trial to better help you determine if the service is right for you. You can use that to catch up on the race and decide if you want to make the month-long (or longer) investment.
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Chambord & Chenonceau Castles Excursion
- 9.20 / 10 5 reviews | 112 travellers
- Free cancellation up to 24 hours before the service starts
Discover Château de Chambord & Château de Chenonceau, two iconic French castles , on this excursion from Tours. The Loire Valley and immaculate gardens await!
At the indicated time, we'll meet in Tours or Amboise, ready to begin an unforgettable excursion to two iconic French castles . First stop? Château de Chenonceau !
On a comfortable minibus, we'll set off for our first destination, enjoying views of the charming villages and beautiful landscapes of the Loire Valley along the way. From the moment we arrive at the castle of Chenonceau , it'll become clear why it's the second most visited in the country.
Accompanied by the fascinating knowledge of the guide, we'll go through each room of the castle, brimming with decorations and paintings that will take you back to the times of the Kings of France. We'll also stroll through the castle's magnificent gardens , which will quickly make you forget the hustle and bustle of the city.
The guide will take us to the charming private Château de Villesavin in the Loire Valley following this first visit. We'll even have the chance to meet the French countess who lives there! After enjoying a glass of wine, a delicious homemade appetizer, and a delicious lunch . Then we'll leave you some free time to explore the gardens at your leisure.
The next stop will be Château de Chambord , an architectural and historical work of art in the heart of the Loire Valley. Your guide will make the visit to the castle a fun and engaging experience, selecting the most iconic rooms to visit and sharing anecdotes you won't forget.
Once we've explored all the secrets of these enchanting castles, we'll return to the starting point at 6 pm if you're picked up in Amboise or 6:30 pm if you're picked up in Tours.
Meeting point & timetable
The tour departs at the indicated times from the following points:
- Tours : Tours Tourist Office, located at 78 rue Bernard Palissy at 9 am
- Amboise : Amboise Tourist Office, located at Quai du Général de Gaulle at 9:30 am
9 hours - 9 hours 30 minutes.
The activity takes place with a guide that speaks in English and French.
Transport by minibus
Tickets to the 3 castles
One glass of wine
Small tour group with a maximum of 8 people
When to book?
You can book up until 24 hours before the activity as long as there are still places. Book now to guarantee your spot.
Type of voucher
Electronic. Show the voucher on your phone.
Not wheelchair accessible.
All services published on Civitatis are carried out in accordance with our Sustainability Code .
Our providers commit to:
- Provide a safe and satisfying experience.
- Reduce, reuse, recycle.
- Incorporate eco-conscious technologies.
- Uphold fair employment standards.
- Foster the growth of local communities.
- Preserve the integrity of local culture.
- Safeguard both cultural and environmental heritage.
- Ensure ethical treatment of animals.
- Operate with honesty and transparency.
- Encourage sustainable behaviors among customers and staff.
This particular activity contributes as follows:
- No printing of documentation required.
- Promotes local employment.
- Has a gender equality policy.
- Has a carbon footprint offset policy.
Bordovino Show more
Corporate name: BORDOVINO
Frequently asked questions
Q - Why do this activity with Civitatis?
A - All Civitatis activities go through a selection process. Within our listings, you won't find two equal activities offered by different providers: we simply take the company with the best reviews and quality and stick with that one. If our users start leaving negative reviews on an activity, we understand that something is off, and we contact the provider to establish a solution. If this situation persists, we look for another company that responds to our commitment to excellence. That's why doing an activity with Civitatis means getting it right every time and ending up satisfied with the service.
Q - How to book?
A - To reserve the activity, choose the date and complete the form on this page. You will receive your confirmation immediately.
Q - Is a minimum number of participants required?
A - This activity requires a minimum of 2 participants. Should this number not be reached, we'll get in touch with you to offer alternatives.
If you have any other questions please contact us.
Tours Tourist Office
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Château de Chenonceau + Chambord Excursion
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English guided tour
Every day from July 08th to August 27th, at 11.15am
A guide takes visitors to the discovery of the essential highlights of the monument: cruciform chamber, double-helix staircase, the terraces…
Duration: 1 hour Every day from July 08th to August 27th, at 11.15am Price : 5 € for an adult / 3 € aged 5 to 17 years (in addition to the entrance fee).
Visit of Chambord Castle Half-Day Tour from Tours
- Transport by air-conditioned minivan
- Entrance tickets and guided visit of the Castle
- Entry/Admission - Château de Chambord
- Hotel pickup and drop-off
- 78 Rue Bernard Palissy, 37000 Tours, France Meet your guide in front of the Tours Tourism office, 10 minutes before the departure time.
- Returns to original departure point
- Not wheelchair accessible
- Near public transportation
- Confirmation will be received at time of booking
- Children must be accompanied by an adult
- Children under 4 years old are not allowed on the tour
- Most travelers can participate
- In case minimum numbers are not reached (2 adults) we will offer to reschedule or refund your tour
- Pets are not allowed on the tour
- This tour/activity will have a maximum of 8 travelers
- For a full refund, cancel at least 24 hours in advance of the start date of the experience.
- You'll start at 78 Rue Bernard Palissy 78 Rue Bernard Palissy, 37000 Tours, France Meet your guide in front of the Tours Tourism office, 10 minutes before the departure time. See address & details
- 1 Chateau de Chambord Stop: 2 hours - Admission included Meet your guide in front of Tours Tourism Office 10 minutes before 9am or 2pm. Depart for Château de Chambord and start the visit at 10am or 3pm. After 2 hours of visit, return to Tours and drop off in front of the tourism office, at 1pm or 6pm. Read more
- You'll return to the starting point